‘As Above, So Below’ Review

 

As Above, So Below movie poster

As Above, So Below, let’s be clear, isn’t a particularly good movie, but it is a damned entertaining one.

The story, such as it is, revolves around Scarlett (Perdida Weeks), who’s searching for the clues that would lead her to the Philosopher’s Stone, which I should mention that her father was also searching for, before he hung himself.

Bad omens aside,  Scarlett is accustomed to going where saner heads refuse to tread, so she charges on and eventually makes her way to Paris, where a vital clue to her quest awaits.

As Above, So Below is also a found footage movie, despite the film not being found by anyone (which is a little odd, when you think about it).

John Erick Dawdle also directed Devil and Quarantine, and while those are both better films, they’re not nearly as frenetic or fun.  Though what’s curious about the film is thatthere’s a campiness, a silliness to As Above, So Below that I am not sure is not was deliberate.

For instance, there’s a scene that I call the ‘creepy woman inside the club’ scene, that is so silly–and I mean laugh out loud silly–that I couldn’t imagine what was going through Dawdle’s mind when he filmed it.  There’s even a later scene–when Scarlett and her gang are exploring the Catacombs of Paris–that is almost as silly (you’ll know it when you see, or hear, it).

The first scene I can see as a mistake that just slipped by the director.  The second…I wasn’t sure what’s going on.  Maybe he’s channelling his inner Joel Schumacher or something (in the sense of camp because Schumacher never did anything so odd by accident).

So As Above, So Below when all is said and done, in terms of the total package, is a bit lacking.  That being said, it’s fun, and besides–you probably already seen Guardians of the Galaxy (twice)it’s worth checking out.

And if anyone could stomach the Transformers (Any of them.  Take your pick), this’ll be walk in the park.  Or maybe a climb in the cave.

‘The Pyramid’ Trailer

The found footage horror movie, The Pyramid, makes a point of mentioning that it’s produced by Alexandre Aja, the director of the reboot of The Hills Have Eyes (possibly the most ‘wholesome’ horror film I have ever seen), Mirrors and High Tension, among others.  What it doesn’t tell you is that it’s directed by Grégory Lavasseur, who’s Aja’s writing partner.   

In other words, what’s being implied is that you’ll somehow find the movie terrifying because of the influence of Aja, though looking at the trailer, I am not at all certain.

And while I think it’s just a coincidence, the trailer seems quite similar to Legendary’s As Above, So Below (both apparently feature people spending time running in terror through subterranean caverns), which is probably not a good thing.

 

Why Marvel Needs To Take Its Time Jumping On The Female Superhero Movie Bandwagon

I have written on women superheroes in movies in the past, and thought that it was a topic worth revisiting, especially since some have decided that Marvel Studios somehow has a duty to make a feature with a female lead.

Which is nonsense, but don’t get me wrong, inclusiveness is a great thing. All of us need to be able to see ourselves in the various superhero universes out there because they serve to not only inspire us, but as a reminder that reminder that we’re part of something greater than ourselves.

But there’s one problem with that thesis: Hollywood is driven not by altruism, but by money. If superhero films featuring women were successful, I guarantee you that every studio would be making them.

And it’s not rocket science as to why such films aren’t more common, which is because they have, so far, been failures at the box office.

For a prime example why Marvel should take their time, let’s look to 2004, when Warner Bros released Catwoman.  It was a failure, earning $80 million on a $100 million budget. And truth be told that was $80 million more than the movie deserved (Though Halle Berry was so classy that she actually attended the 2005 Golden Raspberry Awards–also known as “The Razzies“–where Catwoman “won” in the Worse Picture category).

And the thing is, I don’t blame Pitof, who directed, or Berry’s performance in the title role (though the ‘tuna’ scene was a bit obvious and silly).

Heck, I don’t even blame Theresa RebeckMichael Ferris or John Brancato, who wrote it.

I blame whichever executives at Warner Bros who green-lit the project because alarm bells should have immediately gone off when it was learned that the main character, Patience Phillips (Berry) was ‘Catwoman’ in name only.  Her origins had very little to do with the comics that inspired her creation.  Now, I understand that executives may have wanted to go in a different direction after Catwoman made an appearance in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns–who portrayed the character as a bit too damaged–but to go so totally in the opposite direction tonally was a bit of an over-correction.

As if the Titanic, in a effort to miss a a small sheet of ice, ran smack-dab into the iceberg.

Continue reading

‘When The Game Stands Tall’ Review

When The Game Stands Tall

When The Game Stands Tall Is An Enjoyable Movie, Despite Its Manipulativeness

Have you ever watched something, be it a movie or TV show, and knew you were being manipulated? And I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. All media—including news, much to my dismay—is designed to elicit a reaction from the persons viewing it.

Though what separates great filmmakers from the merely good is that those that we admire the most are fluent in the language of controlling reactions. 

Which means that, as a viewer you just roll with it, as opposed to feeling hoodwinked and cheated somehow.  

For instance, if you’ve seem Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s a scene involving Groot at the end of the movie that’s very cute, and designed to evoke certain feelings.

And it works, because you’re so into the movie that you barely notice that you’re being played.

In other words, Thomas Carter is a good director, but not a great one because When The Game Stands Tall, taken as a whole is for a lot of its running time blatantly obvious in its intentions.

Which isn’t to imply that the movie isn’t sometimes thrilling, inspirational, or even sublime, but only that it tries too hard, when it would have been better off chronicling what happened in a less partial fashion, and let viewers come to their own conclusions about everyone involved.

Continue reading

In The Penumbra Of The Black Plague

I am not a huge video game player, and in fact I tend to enjoy watching other people playing more than doing so myself.  I buy games every once in awhile, particularly if I like the concept behind them, play for a few minutes, then lose interest.

Most of it has to do with my attention span, which for games can be particularly brief. I have always been more interested in the hype that surrounds a game than the game itself; so that when I finally own a game that I have been lusting for for months, if not years, it almost automatically loses what got me interested in the first place.

When Steam was relatively new I purchased six or seven games, two of them being Penumbra: Black Plague and Requiem.

Continue reading

Click Bait: Paul Rudd Edition

First off, let me begin by saying that Paul Rudd is one of my favorite actors.  He reminds me a lot of Chris Pratt, minus the occasional athleticism and seemingly boundless optimism.

I mention him because recently a bunch of sites–such as Deadline: Hollywood, though I am sure there’re others–have featured pictures of Rudd from Marvel Studios’ upcoming Ant-Man and…

Is it Rudd in the Ant-Man costume?  Perhaps facing off against Yellowjacket? Something to get fans over the seemingly earth shattering debacle of Edgar Wright being replaced by Peyton Reed?

No, it’s Paul Rudd being…Paul Rudd.  How awfully lame.  And I get it.  It’s supposedly a picture from the Ant-Man set, but how can you tell?  It could literally be a picture of Paul Rudd wondering anywhere, who’s to know?

‘The Book Of Life’ Trailer 1 & 2

Guillermo del Toro, coming off the success of How To Train Your Dragon 2 (it’s earned over $535 million worldwide) has also produced the upcoming The Book of Life.  Judging from the trailer it looks like it could be fun but I have a few caveats:  First, it’s a cartoon that revolves around the Mexican Day of the Dead, yet there’s only one main actor–Diego Luna–who’s Spanish (Zoe Saldana doesn’t count.  She was born in New Jersey and and later, when she was 10, moved to the Dominican Republic with her family).

Looking at the credits on IMDB that’s actually not the case, but I hope they don’t end up window-dressing in a movie that’s about an aspect of their culture.